Southern California Change Agent Team 3

Elizabeth Nagy
Michael Vendrasco
Pasadena City College
Initial Publication Date: April 5, 2018


The motto of Pasadena City College is Proud Past, Global Future. Our work with SAGE 2YC is directly in line with this motto and our college's institutional priorities focused on success and transfer for all types of students. We have worked with academic and transfer counselors at Pasadena City College to directly help in these ways. Elizabeth has been active in sharing metacognition broadly at Pasadena City College, and both of us made new modifications to each of our course each semester based on SAGE 2YC related information. Moreover the work has felt successful and rewarding to us personally.

At yearly workshops we shared SAGE 2YC knowledge more broadly and facilitated communication among regional geology educators. Southern California is home to 33 community colleges, many of which are within a 50-mile radius of each other. This density of 2YC geoscience departments provides an ideal opportunity for institutional interaction. We held workshops in 2016 and 2017 that included full-time, adjunct, and counseling faculty from 15 community colleges. The workshops focused on 2YC-4YC transfer issues, active learning, assessment, science identity, and introducing students to metacognition. In early 2019 we brought together geology, geography, and environmental science faculty and adjuncts from our own campus for a first time, 3-day off-campus retreat. Among other things we explored well-documented classroom strategies that broaden participation among underrepresented groups in the geosciences.


We do this work to improve the educational content of our courses, and to help students become self-directed learners with a strong curiosity and solid critical thinking skills. We hope to train students in how to study more effectively and think rigorously, skills that will help them in the future. We also aim to provide geoscience majors with other specific skills that will assist in gaining employment in that field. To promote community engagement, we have organized a beach cleanup activity each semester for many of the geology, geography, and environmental studies courses at PCC. Students face various obstacles to doing well in our classes and others, so we have focused on tested solutions in our classrooms to promote a sense of belonging among our students.

Aligning with Institutional Priorities

The Mission of Pasadena City College is to provide a high quality, academically robust learning environment that encourages, supports and facilitates student learning and success. Our college motto is Proud Past, Global Future. The Pasadena Area Community College District follows an Educational Master Plan (EMP) that establishes twelve specific, Mission critical priorities and goals. The entire EMP can be found at EMP Project-90. Our work with SAGE2YC overlaps with many of the strategies identified in the twelve EMP priorities. Here are the ones that are most relevant to our work with SAGE2YC:


Institutional priorities SAGE 2YC strategies
A2. Improve success of our diverse student body in the pursuit and persistence of students' educational and career goals. Classroom discussions of metacognitive studying strategies offer students a new perspective on how to succeed in all of their courses; geoscience career projects inform students about the vast array of possibilities in the job market for any major
A3. Place special emphasis on underperforming students and close the achievement gap for African Americans and Latinos. Using a values affirmation activity at the beginning of the semester


Institutional priorities SAGE 2YC strategies
B1.3. Support and reward effective teaching approaches, including success in using hybrid formats and alternative methods of instruction. Some expenses related to our regional workshops were financially supported by our PCC's STEM center, and PCC provided travel funds to disseminate information at national conferences
B2.1. Provide professional development opportunities for faculty, staff, and managers to learn about new trends and effective practices. Our annual SAGE2YC Regional Workshops provided many examples of these types of opportunities
Institutional priorities SAGE 2YC strategies
D2.1. Build student pathways from noncredit to credit, as well as first year and transfer pathways. Our first regional workshop included 2YC transfer counselors and examined transfer mechanics
D3. Engage in partnerships with four-year institutions to facilitate articulation and transfer. We have initiated discussions with local Universities (UC Los Angeles, UC Riverside) about what is expected for potential transfers into their geology programs.
D4.1. Adjust curricula to prepare students for success in a global, and multicultural society. Emphasizing the relevance of course topics to students' own lives such as resource sustainability
Institutional priorities SAGE 2YC strategies
E1. Support students effectively and efficiently in and out of the classroom. Bringing academic counselors to talk to our students during class time
Institutional priorities SAGE 2YC strategies
F3. Promote trust and transparency in decision-making at all levels. Our former Dean, current Interim Dean, and past Vice President of Instruction are aware of the SAGE2YC project and in some cases have actively participated in our Regional Workshops

This project description is part of a collection documenting work by teams of two-year college faculty to implement high-impact, evidence-based instructional and co-curricular practices at their own institutions in pursuit of improved STEM learning, broadened participation, and a more robust STEM workforce.

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